Stories showcase the real-world importance of "The Media"

Jennifer Hemmingsen
Published: February 22 2013 | 7:32 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 11:50 am in

Iím biased, Iíll admit it, but I wonít let that stop me from pointing out a couple recent examples of the power of good journalism.

Itís high time for a little good news about the news.

So much of what we hear these days about ďThe MediaĒ is negative ó the term itself can seem a slur.

Itís true, the industryís earned a fair share of the criticism as itís struggled with very public and often-ugly crises of identity and liquidity; trying to figure out what professional journalism even looks like in this information age.

But while more than a few of us have been tempted to add ďNSFWĒ to our headlines in order to get a little Web attention, two of Gazette reporter Erin Jordanís investigations provide perfect case studies in how good journalism leads to meaningful real-world changes. That, my friends, is what journalism is all about.

Back in 2011, Erin wrote a series of stories about pregnant inmates in Iowa prisons ó an admittedly small population. She talked with one Iowa inmate, serving time for non-violent offenses, who said that while she wasnít restrained during labor or immediately after, she had been regularly restrained throughout her pregnancy and again as soon as a day after giving birth.

Shortly after, the Department of Corrections began reviewing its policy on restraining pregnant inmates. The revised policy, which took effect last month, explicitly prohibits corrections officials from using restraints on inmates who are 22 weeks or farther along in their pregnancies, unless they pose an immediate security risk.

More recently, Erin looked into how much food was being wasted at The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She found the hospital threw away $181,000 worth of prepared food last year, alone. Quickly, hospital officials announced changes to reduce that waste, including cooking in smaller batches, donating some extras to a local non-profit and composting the rest.

Before Erinís investigations, few of us had ever considered how best to balance inmate health and public safety. Few of us had wondered with any seriousness about where cafeteria food goes at the end of the day. Her stories shed light into those dark corners.

Sheís not alone, Iím lucky to work with a lot of talented journalists. I† know too many more who now are looking for work.

Important work.

Comments: (319) 339-3154; jennifer.hemmingsen@sourcemedia.net

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